History made, museum closes on own property

JACKSON, Wyo. — They did it! Jackson’s historical museum bought their own place.

Bounced from one location to another paying rent to their landlords—the town and county—the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum was finally able to close on the purchase of the southeast corner of the historic Van Vleck block.

Members of the organization commemorated the event briefly yesterday, posing for a photo that itself, one day, may be considered an historic keepsake decades from now. For the first time in the organization’s 60+ year history, the nonprofit will own both its museum campus and the land upon which it sits.

“We feel thrilled to have the opportunity to build a new, permanent museum campus on The Block that will anchor Jackson Hole history in a relevant location, while creating a visible, engaging campus for generations to come,” said Morgan Jaouen, executive director of the museum.

As a permanent partner on The Block—along with the Jackson Hole Land Trust, Teton County Historic Preservation Board, Cafe Genevieve, Persephone Bakery, Healthy Being Cafe & Juicery, and Anonymous Save the Block angel family —the JHHSM will tell the story of Jackson Hole and what makes our community so unique.

The new museum campus will be designed to complement and fit with the historic Block, incorporating new construction and saving existing JHHSM historic log cabins. The campus will provide exhibit, educational, and community gathering spaces and will share the breadth of Jackson Hole history from indigenous peoples, to explorers, settlers, tourists and business people, recreationalists, and many more.

In 2019, during the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s “Save the Block” campaign, JHHSM identified the Van Vleck Block as the ideal permanent home for the nonprofit organization. Voters in the November 2019 Special Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) ballot agreed, approving a SPET tax to partially support the project with a majority of the vote.

Board president Jim Hunt said, “The land purchase is a pivotal moment for our organization, and we are grateful for the community’s support and involvement to date. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and finish making this vision a reality.”

Next steps in the project include planning, designing, fundraising, and building the new museum campus in the coming years.

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